Mobile User Experience (UX) Design

User Experience (UX) topic overview/definition

84 shares
51
26
7

What is Mobile User Experience (UX) Design?

Mobile user experience (UX) design refers to the design of positive experiences during the use of mobile devices and wearables, and applications or services running on such devices. The mobile market, like the contexts in which mobiles are used, places unique requirements on the design of the user experience. Mobile UX design focuses strongly on efficiency and discoverability.

Mobile users engage with their devices at crucial moments and only for short periods. Their experiences need to be personalized, efficient and enjoyable in order to keep them engaged and ensure their continued use of such items. Therefore, mobile UX design focuses on delivering devices and services that are streamlined to serve spontaneous user needs that change with the context the user finds himself or herself in, while keeping the interaction levels as low as possible. For instance, a user may have two free hands and fewer distractions while standing in a coffee shop than she would if, five minutes later, she must grasp a pole or railing on a bus traveling on an uneven road.

Another significant challenge for mobile UX is discoverability (i.e., how easily potential users can find the service or app) due to the sheer size of app marketplaces. For the same reason, retention and engagement also pose significant challenges, since users are often able to find plentiful and free alternatives to suit their needs. For mobile UX designers, the careful shaping of the mobile user experience—from discovery to operation and co-operation with other devices or services—is a key goal in creating positive and personally meaningful experiences for users. Designing for mobile also involves appreciating the need for brand consistency and the users’ expectations of content regarding their threshold for inferior versions of “full-fledged” designs they would find on computers at home or in the office.

Literature on Mobile User Experience (UX) Design

Here’s the entire UX literature on Mobile User Experience (UX) Design by the Interaction Design Foundation, collated in one place:

Featured article

Designing for the Mobile Environment – Some Simple Guidelines

Designing for the Mobile Environment – Some Simple Guidelines

If you’re going to design for mobile, then it’s likely you’re going to need to consider the way that the device is used and the specifics of the device itself. There are some general principles that can help designers for mobile get started but don’t forget that these don’t replace the need for user research. They are guidelines not hard and fast rules.

There are many things to consider when designing for mobile and while many are standard UX considerations; there are going to be mobile specific design considerations too. Are you going to integrate your mobile offering with your current offering? Will you use responsive design or adaptive design if you do?

A lot of this will boil down to context. E.g the context in which the mobile device will be used. If your users access the mobile web from their desks, that’s awesome, but many users don’t. They’re going to be trying to use them in the supermarket, on their daily commute, on the walk to the coffee shop, etc.

That means you’re going to have to consider how to reduce distractions and make it easy for the user to focus on the task in hand too.

Josh Clark, the author of Tapworthy- Designing Great iPhone Apps, offers three categories for mobile web access:

  • Microtasking: When the user interacts with their device for brief but frenzied periods of activity
  • Local: When the user wants to know what’s going on around them
  • Bored: When the user has nothing better to do and is looking to be entertained or otherwise diverted

Basic Design Considerations for the Mobile Web

Small Screens

You don’t have as much screen real estate for mobile devices as you do for PCs and laptops. That means, normally, you’ll be designing for multiple screen sizes. You need to make a decision early as to whether to use responsive design (where the device handles the changes in display) or adaptive design (where your servers handle the changes).

You want to focus on a “mobile first” approach which means designing for the smallest mobile platforms and increasing complexity from there.

A good process to follow would be:

  • Group device types based on similar screen sizes and try to keep this to a manageable number of groups
  • Define content rules and design adaption rules that enable you to display things well on each group of devices
  • Try to adhere as closely to web standards (W3) as possible when implementing flexible layouts

Don’t forget that there are many different browser types available for the mobile web and the wider Internet too. You want to ensure that you support as many of these as possible – including those that are no longer current (such as BlackBerry and Nokia WebKit).

Author/Copyright holder: Philip Jägenstedt. Copyright terms and licence: CC0 1.0

Keep Navigation Simple

Keypads and touch screens don’t make for precise navigation like mice do – so try to:

  • Prioritize navigation based on the way users work with functionality – the most popular go at the top
  • Minimize the levels of navigation involved
  • Ensure labelling is clear and concise for navigation
  • Offer short-key access to different features
  • Remember to offer a 30x30 pixel space for touch screen tap points
  • Ensure that links are visually distinct and make it clear when they have been activated too
  • Make it easy to swap between the mobile and full site (if you choose to implement separate versions)

Keep Content to a Minimum

Don’t overwhelm your users – respect the small screen space. Keep content to a minimum.

Make sure that content is universally supported on all devices or avoid it. Think Flash and then don’t use it, for example.

Make page descriptions short and to the point – for relevant bookmarks.

Reduce the Inputs Required from Users

The less the user has to fiddle with their phone; the more they’re going to enjoy using your mobile web offering. Consider:

  • Keeping URLs short.
  • Offering alternative input mechanisms (video, voice, etc.)
  • Minimizing inputs in forms (you can always ask for more data when the user logs on to the desktop)
  • Allowing permanent sign in (most smartphones are password or fingerprint protected – the risks of staying logged in are less than on the desktop)
  • Keep scrolling to a minimum and only allow scrolling in one direction

Author/Copyright holder: Subhashish Panigrahi. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 3.0

Remember Mobile Connections Are Not Stable

Mobile connections can be a colossal PITA in areas with patchy service. Don’t make things hard on your users. Try:

  • Retaining data so that it’s not lost in a connection break
  • Minimizing page size for rapid loading
  • Killing off ad-networks, etc. on mobile sites which consume huge amounts of bandwidth and data
  • Keeping images to a minimum and reducing the size of those images
  • Reducing the numbers of embedded images to a minimum (speeding up load times)

Author/Copyright holder: Stefano De Sabbata and Mark Graham. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 3.0

Continuous Integrated Experiences

As users move between mobile and the desktop they’re going to expect similar experiences. Remember to:

  • Maintain continuity. If they log into your webstore on mobile they should be able to track orders and make purchases just like they would on the desktop.
  • Maintain consistency. Offer the option to switch between mobile and desktop offerings at will.
  • Maintain brand. The look and feel of each version should be similar.

The Take Away

Mobile is different from the traditional desktop environment and while standard UX and usability considerations are needed in a mobile context – the mobile environment also brings new design considerations. It’s important for mobile designers to pay attention to the details in order to deliver the best possible user experiences.

References

Creative Bloq suggest focusing on these 10 principles of interactive design for mobile - http://www.creativebloq.com/mobile/10-principles-mobile-interface-design-4122910

Give Good UX offer 5 simple tips for mobile design - http://www.givegoodux.com/5-crucial-principles-great-mobile-design/

Smashing Magazine offers 7 principles for mobile UX design - http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/07/seven-guidelines-for-designing-high-performance-mobile-user-experiences/

InfoWorld thinks you need to look at these 10 tips to get mobile app design right - http://www.infoworld.com/article/2612190/mobile-apps/heed-these-10-expert-tips-for-mobile-app-design.html

Hero Image: Author/Copyright holder: Michael Sean Gallagher. Copyright terms and licence: CC BY-SA 2.0

Show full article Show collapsed article

Learn more about Mobile User Experience (UX) Design

Take a deep dive into Mobile User Experience (UX) Design with our course Mobile User Experience (UX) Design.

Mobile usage overtook that of desktop way back in 20141; since then, the gap between devices has only widened, with the rise in mobile usage doubling the loss seen on desktop2. This increase in mobile traffic has made mobile user experience one of the most important factors in the success of a product or website, and it means that the skills involved are absolutely essential for designers, marketers, and developers if they want to keep up with the times. This course will teach you how to do just that—design great mobile user interfaces, with an emphasis on mobile usability best practices.

When you want to start designing a great user experience on a mobile device, using commonsense design approaches or simply learning by doing won’t be enough. With 61% of users unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble accessing and, even worse, 40% choosing to visit a competitor’s site instead2, such uneducated approaches could prove disastrous for your product or website. A user’s comprehension is 50% less on a mobile device, which means that content, navigation, and visual design elements must be twice as intuitive as they are on a desktop. With hard facts like that, you must constantly keep in mind the point that little screens mean very little room for error. Designing for mobile means taking the rough of the risk with the smooth of the sheer profit potential, and your need to learn the skills involved in creating an easy-to-use mobile user interface and, consequently, a great mobile user experience is nothing less than vital.

This course is built on evidence-based approaches as well as solid evidence distilled from decades of research and practice. Here, CEO of ExperienceDynamics.com, Frank Spillers, who is a distinguished speaker, author, and internationally respected Senior Usability practitioner, will teach you what you need to know to stay one step ahead as you venture into this exciting, cutting-edge and lucrative field.

All literature

Tell Me About Me – User Profiles for Mobile Applications

Tell Me About Me – User Profiles for Mobile Applications

With the move away from websites to applications on mobile devices; there’s a need for many apps to create, maintain and manage user profiles so that users can effectively interact with the app and so that the app’s creators can collect and analyse data useful to their businesses. There is no “one size fits all” method of building user profile i...

  • 338 shares
  • 1 month ago
Mobile First and the Power of Mobile Computing

Mobile First and the Power of Mobile Computing

Given that you will need to design (or at least accommodate) apps and websites for more than one device type today; where do you start? Do you begin with the desktop experience and scale down? Or do you begin with the smartphone and then scale up? The concept of “mobile first” suggests that you might want to begin with the smartphone.The very fi...

  • 344 shares
  • 1 year ago
Remote Research Methods for Mobile Applications

Remote Research Methods for Mobile Applications

Mobile app user research in the lab may not be as effective as remote research. Users of mobile apps are going to face continued distractions when using their smartphones and there’s no better simulation for these distractions than monitoring the user in their ordinary environment. There is a strong business case for remote research for mobile a...

  • 378 shares
  • 1 year ago
Help! I need some help! Not just any help… Help in mobile applications

Help! I need some help! Not just any help… Help in mobile applications

When users start getting to grips with your mobile app they’re going to need a little help from time-to-time. The good news is that there are standard design patterns which can be employed to reduce design time for help in mobile apps. There are also some useful guidelines that can be employed to improve the UX of help in general. Familiarizing ...

  • 420 shares
  • 5 months ago
The Context of Mobile Usage – The Big Picture

The Context of Mobile Usage – The Big Picture

There are two schools of thought when it comes to contextual consideration for mobile use and thus mobile design; one is concerned with the patterns of use identified for mobile and offers a useful set of heuristics to consider – the other is concerned with a larger, less well-defined context which may also be valuable to consider when designing...

  • 332 shares
  • 3 months ago
Navigating the Maze of Mobile Apps – Design for Mobile App Search

Navigating the Maze of Mobile Apps – Design for Mobile App Search

In the digital age, people have come to rely on search as one of, if not THE, foremost tools for navigation in applications and online. Integrating search into mobile applications can be straightforward and users will thank you for it. The mobile user experience relies just as much on effective search as the desktop one.Thanks to the efficiency ...

  • 448 shares
  • 7 months ago
Using Mobile Apps – The One Thumb, One Eyeball Test for Good Mobile Design

Using Mobile Apps – The One Thumb, One Eyeball Test for Good Mobile Design

Mobile designs need to take into account the way that users work with a mobile phone. That means understanding that distractions can come into play when the smartphone is in use and also ensuring that you make the input process as simple as possible to counteract their impact. Luke Wroblewski suggests the “one thumb, one eyeball” test as an effi...

  • 397 shares
  • 3 weeks ago
Getting Your App into the Hands of Millions – Marketing for Mobile Apps

Getting Your App into the Hands of Millions – Marketing for Mobile Apps

Mobile apps aren’t a new thing but the latest research estimates that people spend 30 hours a month playing with apps now. That makes for a substantial opportunity for UX designers but once the product’s finished; how do you market it? Getting the marketing right is the key to market acceptance of your well-designed products. Research from Niel...

  • 455 shares
  • 9 months ago
Getting Lost and Found – Maps and the Mobile User Experience

Getting Lost and Found – Maps and the Mobile User Experience

The ability to harness GPS data and map data on smartphone platforms offers designers a chance to enhance the user experience of their products. However, in order for maps to deliver better experiences for users – it’s important to integrate these features with UX in mind. There are some sensible rules that can be used to increase your chances o...

  • 365 shares
  • 5 months ago
Six Simple Rules for Better Navigation UX

Six Simple Rules for Better Navigation UX

There are many rules for navigation UX; some of them complex and only used in very specific circumstances. Yet, there are some rules which will apply to nearly every situation. We’ve come up with six simple rules that may help you get your navigation UX closer to perfection: Rule 1: Be ClearAuthor/Copyright holder: Tom Longfield. Copyright term...

  • 374 shares
  • 2 years ago
Better Notification UX for Phones and Tablets

Better Notification UX for Phones and Tablets

I have a confession to make. I bought a $700 smartphone and have now permanently disconnected it from being online during the day. Why? The notifications are driving me berserk. Ding! You have a Facebook message. Ding! It’s 1 degree colder outside than it was yesterday. Ding! Your phone company has released another minor variation of Android. Di...

  • 292 shares
  • 2 years ago
User Input and the Mobile User Experience – We’re All Thumbs Now or Maybe Not

User Input and the Mobile User Experience – We’re All Thumbs Now or Maybe Not

Mobile platforms are both limited in terms of their user input and also, in other ways, vastly superior to traditional laptops and desktops. Designing apps or web sites for mobile means taking into account the differences in the way that users can interact with a device and shaping the experience of the final product to take advantage of the str...

  • 637 shares
  • 1 year ago
Talk to Me! Feedback and Notifications in Mobile Design

Talk to Me! Feedback and Notifications in Mobile Design

Smartphone users interact with their phones up to 150 times a day. Some of their interactions are long interactions but many are short and hurried. Because of this smartphone users may lack the patience of desktop users and without the appropriate feedback and notifications they may abandon an app or web presence quickly never to return. Mobile ...

  • 468 shares
  • 1 year ago
Tell the World About It – Taking Your Mobile Designs Social

Tell the World About It – Taking Your Mobile Designs Social

There is no device more personal than the smartphone but how do you connect the wider social world available on the mobile web to your own app or website? Social interaction on the mobile web is a key part of creating great user experiences. There are some simple actions you can take to increase the sociability of your offerings and provide prod...

  • 458 shares
  • 9 months ago
If Your User Can’t Find You, You Won’t Have Any Users – Mobile Applications and Discoverability

If Your User Can’t Find You, You Won’t Have Any Users – Mobile Applications and Discoverability

Discoverability is not a new concept for web designers. In fact Search Engine Optimization and various forms of Search Engine Marketing arose from the need to make websites easy to discover by users. In the mobile application space this issue of discoverability is becoming ever more important – with nearly 700 apps a day being released on Apple’...

  • 640 shares
  • 11 months ago
Creating Lust, Desirability and the Mobile User Experience

Creating Lust, Desirability and the Mobile User Experience

User experience can often be reduced by those outside the discipline to “usability” and to be fair to them – UX did arise from usability but the user experience depends on more than just a product being usable. One key component of UX is desirability – the ability to make a product fun and engaging to use. Mobile internet platforms add several n...

  • 380 shares
  • 1 year ago
Mobile Comprehension – Do Smartphones Make Us Stupid?

Mobile Comprehension – Do Smartphones Make Us Stupid?

We all know that the screen real estate on mobile devices is limited when compared to that offered by a desktop or a laptop; but what effect does that have on the comprehension of content by the user? What other pain points are there for mobile users? How could we go about avoiding them? Developing a better mobile user experience comes from bett...

  • 420 shares
  • 1 year ago
The Rumble in the Board Room – Mobile Splash Screens What Clients Want and What They Should Get

The Rumble in the Board Room – Mobile Splash Screens What Clients Want and What They Should Get

First impressions count. So how do you make a good impression on the first time user of a mobile application? Through a mobile splash screen. Unfortunately, there are often conflicts between a client’s wants for the splash screen and best practices. If you can learn to manage these conflicts – you can create better mobile user experiences for en...

  • 741 shares
  • 2 years ago
An Extension of What You Should Already Know – UX for Mobile Applications

An Extension of What You Should Already Know – UX for Mobile Applications

Mobile apps are subject to the normal rules of user experience design; a product of any kind requires user research, iterative design and user testing prior to release. However, there are specific rules which apply to mobile apps in general that are unique to the mobile app user experience. Knowing these rules enables you to make design decision...

  • 487 shares
  • 2 years ago